Keep Your Enemies Closer: Q&A Session with A Steeler’s Blogger


Every week, I’ll take a look behind enemy lines and try to understand the enemy team from their persepective. Here’s this week’s interview with Fansided’s Steelers’ Blogger Craig Gottschalk:

1. RB Rashard Mendenhall has only broken the 100 yard once this year, and only has 574 yards on the year. What would you say is the reason for his drop in production? Playcalling, offensive line, or something else?

"I say it’s his fault and the offensive line 75%/25%. The line hasn’t been getting the best push off the ball and creating huge holes. That said, the ones they are creating, Mendenhall is not taking advantage of those. He’s indecisive, ‘dancy’ and refuses to churn his legs after the first hit. The Steelers are running the ball less – so when they do, they need someone who can bust and churn through the defense."

2. Along the same lines, the offense really had trouble getting going against the Chiefs. Why did we see a different Steelers offense last week?

"Ben’s broken hand played a bit in his inaccuracy. Drops by the receivers. Sloppy penalties. Basically the team fell victim to the bye week blues like most other teams have this season. No practice during the bye week is hurtful. Luckily they were playing the Chiefs."

3. The Steelers pass defense has been very good this year averaging 181.3 passing yards a game (3rd in the NFL). AND they’ve had 6 interceptions in their last 2 games. Which players have been the most key to this high level of play?

"All of them really. They have been cohesive and very good in making adjustments before the snap. We’ve rarely seen blown coverages. If the middle linebackers could cover in their zones better, the Steelers would still hold the #1 spot. If I had to pick someone, I would say Lewis and Gay have been surprises the second half of the season breaking up passes (Gay) and getting picks (Lewis)."

4. Will Big Ben be at %100 on Sunday? A broken thumb on your throwing hand seems like a tough injury to overcome. And he wasn’t horrible against the Chiefs last week.

"I doubt it. He said it wasn’t really bothering him last week – but you could tell for most of the game he was missing his zip on the ball and had some accuracy issues. I’m sure he will be a bit better this week, but the reality is we may not see Ben at 100% for the rest of the season. Borken bones are hard to mend while putting continued stress on them, and taking snaps can’t be helping."

5. Which aspect of the team is the Steeler’s weakest link and why?

"I keep going back and forth between the running game and the coaching (specifically Arians). The running game is allowing more teams to effectively run double teams on Wallace without worrying of committing extra guys in the box. Arians is getting on everyone’s nerves of his ‘prevent offense’ once the team gets a lead. The lack of killer instinct gets the team in constant trouble, which turns into losses."